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July 2, 2012

Chief Minister set-up 11 member monitoring committee to check inflation; to meet again on July 17

Chief Minister set-up 11 member monitoring committee to check inflation; to meet again on July 17

West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee convenes an emergency meeting at Writers' Building to discuss soaring prices of vegetables in the markets. The meeting was attended by representatives across 11-market associations, concerned ministers and secretaries of respective departments and administrative officials including Kolkata Police Commissioner.

`I have taken up the matter seriously with all the concerned departments. After listening to all the suggestions, I have decided to set-up a task force which will start functioning from tomorrow itself, the committee members will sit daily in the morning`, said Ms. Banerjee who added that she is concerned over the fluctuation of prices in different markets, `I find that the prices of commodities vary in different markets. I will not accept such practices and I have made this clear to the members of the task force`, added Ms. Banerjee. Apart from that she said, `I fail to understand how can the same potato costs 18 to 24 rupees which is procured at nine rupees in Posta or Koley market. I do agree that traders will add the cost of transportation to incur a profit and I have no objection to that but even then the prices will have an increase by two rupees. What makes them charge such a hefty amount`, said an aggrieved Ms. Banerjee.  

`I am surprised to find that potato sells at Rs 16 a kg at Koley while farmers are selling it for Rs 8 a kg. Why this gap? I am told that a section of traders are hoarding big time. Potato and seasonal vegetables are being stored for three to four days, thus creating an artificial crisis. The price of rice has gone up from Rs 3 to Rs 5 a kg. It is the poor who are at the receiving end of this inflation` was the immediate reaction of Ms. Banerjee who took surprise visits of Koley and Lansdowne markets on Saturday, `A section of hoarders are creating this artificial crisis of essential commodities. After getting complaints against price rise from common people, I decided to pay surprise visits to these markets. My government won`t allow these black marketers to do whatever they like. I shall take stern steps against them if they don`t heed to our warning`, said the Chief Minister. `I can`t run about inspecting markets. The department concerned should be doing its job`, added Ms. Banerjee.

On Monday the Chief Minister called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue and also explore ways to control the problem. During an hour-long-meeting the Ms. Banerjee gave a patient hearing to the representatives from the market associations and tried to explore the reason behind the price rise. Trying to explore ways to curb this menace the Chief Minister announced an 11-member-monitering-committee headed by the Chief Minister.

Speaking on this occasion Chief Minister said that she will not tolerate the illegal hoarding as it is due to them that the situation has become so grave, `There is a attitude among average traders keep rice and grains on hold and sell next year to avail of the increased price offered by Central Government. I would like to tell them that don't do this mistake as the grains and rice you are staging may go waste due to various reasons, what will you do then. Besides next year you will have fresh growth and you can avail off the new prices`. In this regard the Chief Minister referring to the Forwarding Policy of the Central government said that her government will not accept such policies in Bengal as this is the reason behind such inflation. `I want to make it clear that I will not tolerate anything which helps the black maketeirs and hoarders to flourish, if required I will take stern action and see such things are stopped`, added Ms. Banerjee.

The committee member consists of members of the market association, Horticulture Minister, Agricultural Minister and respective secretaries. They will take rounds of all the markets in the city and will submit the observations along with the possible suggestive measures to check inflation. The committee will again meet on July 17, 2012 when they will apprise the Chief Minister of their findings. However, Chief Minister made it clear that this should not hamper the supply and consumers should get vegetables easily. To enable easy availability of green chilly the state government has decided to import green chilly from Katihar in Bihar, `I have asked them to procure the chilly for the time being from Bihar as the availability is low in Bengal st this moment`.  

Last year in August, on the completion of 100th day in office, Ms. Banerjee had visited two-major-markets across Kolkata to check the prices of the vegetables which had trebled with the onset of a flood-like situation in some parts of the state. Ms. Banerjee had set up a task force for controlling price rise.